The Comedy of Errors

September 16, 2010 – October 17, 2010

by William Shakespeare
adapted and directed by Sean Graney

Innovative director Sean Graney (The Hypocrites) re-imagines Shakespeare’s funniest farce about mistaken identity, mental illness, and xenophobia. The story of two sets of twins separated at birth, The Comedy of Errors will be a theatrical event full of energetic slapstick and lyrical comedy, performed by six virtuoso actors. This season opener represents the next step in Graney’s exploration of classic farce at Court Theatre, following What the Butler Saw and The Mystery of Irma VepApproximate Running Time: 88 minutes; no intermission.  Artwork by Daniel Minter.

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The Comedy of Errors is a classic Shakespearean comedy of mistaken identity. Woeful Egeon of Syracuse has wandered into the town of Ephesus to find his lost son Antipholus, who years ago left home to find his lost twin brother, also named Antipholus. Both brothers, along with their twin servants (both named Dromio), were separated from birth during a shipwreck. Because of a new law forbidding trade and travel from Syracuse, however, Egeon is promptly arrested. After sharing his tragic story with the sympathetic Duke, Egeon is granted a single day to find his sons. If he fails, his penalty for trespassing is death.

Meanwhile, Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse sneak into Ephesus looking for their twins. All too soon, however, the local citizens mistake them for their Ephesian counterparts. Adriana mistakes the Syracusean Antipholus for her Ephesian husband, locking her real husband out of his house. When Syracusean Antipholus is given a gold necklace by a strange merchant, the rightful Ephesian owner is arrested for stealing it. As Syracusean Antipholus is embraced by a strange town where everyone knows his name, Ephesian Antipholus is rejected by friends, colleagues, and even his own wife. As the comic confusion escalates, each twin begins to doubt his own sanity. The lunatic Dr. Pinch, sent to cure Ephesian Antipholus of his madness, helps bring the chaos to a hilarious climax where the twins and their long-lost father can finally be reunited with each other.

William Shakespeare adapted The Comedy of Errors from a classical comedy called Menaechmi by the Roman playwright Plautus. To increase the number of comic possibilities in the story, Shakespeare invented an extra pair of twins (the Dromios) for his version. In Court Theatre’s production, we’ve also sought to increase the comic potential by having all 24 characters played by 6 actors, including the Antipholus and Dromio twins, who will each be played by a single actor. Undergoing dozens of costume changes over the course of the show, Court’s actors will perform a Comedy of Errors that embraces the mad spirit of Shakespeare’s play.


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